The Crimean War monument was designed in 1858 by George Goldie and looked very impressive in its day, consisting of a tall column topped by a seated figure of Victory, and surrounded by Russian cannons at its base.
Road layout changes in the 1960s meant that the historic memorial had to be moved, and so it was decided that it should be placed in Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens. But some of the monument never made it there. Rumours suggested that the column was broken up and placed in a park but it seems that much of it has been lying neglected in a housing estate for nearly 50 years.
Though these precious pieces of the monument have recently been discovered, there are still more pieces to be found. Unfortunately, the column’s base and elaborately carved top, featuring the majestic Victory, are still missing.
The remainder of the monument remains in storage after its removal from the Botanical Gardens a decade ago. The Victorian Society says that Sheffield Council should have found a new place to publicly display the memorial within this time but, as they failed to do this, they are in breach of the Listed Building Consent which was given to remove the memorial.
The Victorian Society is calling upon Sheffield Council to secure the future of the monument in time for the 160th anniversary of the end of the Crimean War in 2016. Crimean War memorials are relatively rare as it was the first war after which public memorials were erected for ordinary soldiers. The Sheffield monument features an inscription dedicating it to the city’s fallen and the The Victorian Society believes it is wrong of the council to deny Sheffield’s people of this rare connection to their city and its history.
The Victorian Society is also asking the public to search their neighbourhoods for the monument’s missing pieces – the elaborately carved top and bottom of the column. As the location of the other column pieces shows, these distinctive pieces may be somewhere unexpected.
The Victorian Society is so concerned for future of the monument that they placed it in their Top Ten Most Endangered Buildings 2014 earlier this month. Since then, many organisations and people have joined the cause to ensure that this tribute to Britain’s war dead is not left forgotten indefinitely, including the great-great-grandson of the monument’s architect, The Royal British Legion and The War Memorials Trust.
Frances Moreton, director of the War Memorials Trust, said: “In February 2016 it will be 160 years since the end of the Crimean War which this memorial commemorates. It would be wonderful if the council and community could come together to ensure that that event is marked by the return of this wonderfully impressive memorial to its rightful place as a landmark in the city.”
The Victorian Society welcomes the support of others and hopes to achieve the re-erection of the monument in the next few years. Christopher Costelloe, director of the Victorian Society, said: “We welcome the support we have received from other organisations and the news that War Memorials Trust may be able to provide funding to help ensure that the monument is available again for all to appreciate and visit. I hope it is not too late for the council to mark Remembrance Day 2014 with a statement setting out plans to re-erect the monument in time for the 160th anniversary of the end of the Crimean War in February 2016.”
Councillor Isobel Bowler, Sheffield’s Council’s cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure, said: “Repair work to the Crimean Monument was carried out and it was placed into safe storage when it was removed from the Botanical Gardens some years ago. There was a proposal to re-locate it to Barkers Pool, but this was felt to be an inappropriate location at that time.
“To date neither a suitable new location nor the funding to reinstate the monument have been identified. However, the monument is being stored safely and is available to be displayed in future. We are conscious that there will be a significant cost involved in reinstating the monument now, at a time when Council budgets are already under severe pressure to cover the city’s essential services.
“We would welcome a meeting with representatives of The Victorian Society to discuss the future of the monument and their ideas for possible solutions in terms of funding and siting the monument.”
Photos: University of Sheffield and The Victorian Society
For more information visit www.victoriansociety.org.uk